How Grant Management is A Lot Like Broccoli

Mar 7, 2024 | Grant Writing

Young boy refusing a stalk of broccoli

The grant world is split into two very distinctive halves: pre-award and post-award.

Many organizations put pressure on their grant professionals to get the grant, causing the focus of our time to live on the pre-award side – conducting prospect research to find the right grant, then developing each proposal to submit by the deadline.

But then the award letters start arriving, and you may find yourself thinking, “NOW WHAT?”

Grant management is a skill, just like grant writing. It takes time, effort, and a bit of professional development to flex those skills. But if you don’t plan for it, that grant award won’t amount to anything.

In our latest Fundraising HayDay podcast episode, we spoke with Rachel Werner, GPC, PMP and Lucy Morgan, CPA of MyFedTrainer.Com. Rachel likened the post-award side to eating your vegetables. You may prefer to simply enjoy the dessert (getting the grant), but you have to finish your broccoli first. She and Lucy shared many tips for quality grant management. Take a listen HERE.

If you’re new to grant management, here’s a few things to think about during the grant development phase.

1. Every time you develop an objective, you will be required to track that data and report on it to the funder. Make sure each objective is measurable and attainable. And think about who is going to be responsible for tracking that data.
2. Make sure your budget is realistic. Think about the timing of spending the money based on your agency’s procurement policies. Work with your finance department early. Sure, you can do budget amendments, but they take time and are not always approved. As close as your budget is to the actual needs, the more likely you are to spend your grant funds in a timely manner.
3. Funders, especially government agencies, often share what the reporting process will be like. Start planning early and put together your grant team. It should include someone from the grants office, program team member, and finance. Figure out early on who will be responsible for what, so when the grant is awarded you are ready to start.
4. Is there a match requirement? Most funders require you have the money in hand before you submit the grant. Work with the finance department to ensure it is available and ready.
5. Are you going to use volunteers, staff time, or hire new personnel with this grant? You will need to track the hours worked on this project. Work with your human resources team and the finance department to ensure you have a viable means to track this data.

Thinking ahead means you are more likely to be successful and meet all the funder requirements when the grant award arrives.

And speaking of grant awards, many funders (especially government agencies) send an award agreement that spells out their expectations and requirements for the grant period. If you’re the grant professional in charge of the grant management team, then you need to read that document page by page.

Here’s what you are looking for in the award document:

1. What is the start and end date of the grant, so everyone knows when the project work (and money spending) can take place?
2. How often are reports due? What is the date they are due? What is the form/system that must be used to share this information to the funder?
3. How does the funder pay you? And what documentation must you share to receive your funds?
4. What specific rules are listed in the Terms and Conditions section of the grant? This is the section that will tell you if you must follow federal rules like the Davis-Bacon Wage Act, Buy American, etc. Trust me, you want to get this right from the start.
5. Who is your program officer? And do not be afraid to contact him or her with questions. In fact, I recommend calling them early, introducing yourself, and asking if there is any insight he/she can share with you about successfully completing your project.

Good grant management will lead to future grant awards. Poor grant management can lead to losing your grant funding, unsuccessful future grant proposals, and worse.

As much as I would prefer a slice of chocolate cake over broccoli, I always ensure grant management is handled before I even think about writing another grant. I’m not saying you can’t do both. But if you want a full meal, you must start with your veggies.

Don’t believe me? Listen to the podcast and hear it straight from Rachel Werner.

Amanda Day
Fundraising HayDay

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